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Emerson College is committed to maintaining an environment where the education of students is of the greatest importance.Dating, romantic, or sexual relationships between College faculty members and students, even if consensual, can negatively affect the educational environment for students.
A faculty member’s ability to teach, evaluate, or advise a student without partiality is suspect when the faculty member and the student have a dating, romantic, or sexual relationship.Even when the faculty member and student act with integrity, others may perceive bias, partiality, or influence.Furthermore, the dissolution of these relationships can create discord and significantly impair the normal operations of the College.Increasingly, institutions are trying to limit such relationships, although only a few -- notably the College of William and Mary in Virginia -- have banned all sexual liaisons between professors and undergraduates, as well as graduate students under their supervisors.Others have toughened their policies to require professors to give up supervisory or evaluative roles over students with whom they are involved, and to report such relationships to their own supervisors.Such students, it says, would include those whose academic program requires them to enroll in a class taught by the professor as well as those known to the faculty member to "have an interest" in an academic subject within the professor's area of expertise.
It would also require professors to recuse themselves from academic responsibility for students with whom the professors have an existing relationship.
It is the obligation of that Dean or Executive Director to take the steps that he or she deems necessary to insure that the educational experience of the student, and other students in the School or program, is not materially affected by the dating, romantic, sexual, or marital relationship.
Since individual cases may vary, the Dean or Executive Director has discretion to consider specific circumstances—the nature of the relationship, the specifics of the student’s academic program and the faculty member’s responsibilities, and constraints on the School or program—in fashioning these steps.
Binion, who helped draft the policy, said that while she believes most faculty members already recognize such standards of behavior, it was important for the university to take a clear stand."The very integrity of the university's academic mission is dependent on the accountability of the faculty member as a mentor, educator and evaluator," she said. But six campuses, including Berkeley, have conflict-of-interest guidelines urging professors to recuse themselves from overseeing students with whom they are romantically involved.
The regents approved the policy on a voice vote, with two of them -- Regent Velma Montoya and student Regent Matt Murray -- asking that their opposition be registered.
The steps can range from no action, to the recusal of the faculty member from matters involving the student, to changes in the faculty member’s teaching, advising, service, or other duties.